Perth born Jane Pestell-Litten is a trans-Tasman artist based in Arrowtown, New Zealand.
Since commencing painting in 2007 Jane has been final listed in a number of awards from the Black Swan Portrait Prize through to the Limestone Prize in South Australia and most recently a semi finalist in the 2015 Doug Moran Portrait Prize. Her work is mostly figurative – either whole or portrait – rendered in the traditional method of artist quality oil on Belgium or Italian linen in the photorealistic manner.
Passionate about capturing light and the individuality of the sitter/ figure, Janes body of work deals with figures placed in isolation or in alien worlds. Recent works have focused around isolated swimmers and exploring the effect of light through water on bodies and colour.
In the below Q&A Jane Pestell-Litten tells us a bit about her background and the passion behind her art.
Enjoy getting to know….Jane Pestell-Litten
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realise you had talent?
I was the youngest child in a medical household where there was one book on art. I suspect there was a deep concern over this child who showed no aptitude for science or maths but relished art music language and drama.
I recall having been taken to see Nureyev dance Romeo and Juliet and sitting down the following morning and painting his portrait using watercolours in an oil style. I was 10. Whilst my parents dutifully framed and hung the work it was an actively discouraged direction. I was entitled to continue art at school as long as my maths grades didn’t drop.
So whilst the desire was there- it was a clearly understood lesson that this was a path for other people.
Where did you learn your art?
I’m pretty much self taught – I studied art at school and after a 30 year career in designing building interiors furniture etc. A friend invited me to keep her company at a life drawing group in Floreat about 10 years ago. My own imagined ineptitude kept me quietly terrified through the first couple of weeks and then I just couldn’t stop. My husband gave me a set of oils for Christmas and 14 months later I had my first sell out show. There are a lot of people who helped me along my path and to them I will be forever grateful
I read art books, I study all the work I can, I take it as a lifetime process of learning and critiquing my own work to push on… I’ve wasted so much time getting to this point.
What inspires you most?
People. I’m a great people watcher.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
Stop. Look. Really look.
Describe your studio…
In Perth my studio was a spare room in the house.
In NZ it’s pretty much the same although it’s purpose built. The room is upstairs in the centre of the house and has 4 skylights and a window so that I can regulate light and air I have three easels, a couple of tables and a large drawing board in the space. A separate room off the studio has a cleaners sink and stores all my stretchers and canvas etc. Sadly my studio is never as tidy nor as clean as I would like it to be. I seem to be destined to be a messy creative
As I live in semi rural south New Zealand the views from the studio are over to the Remarkable Mountains which get covered with snow in winter. Its a glorious landscape and I’m as private as I need to be.
Describe your typical day of creating art…
I’m in the studio at 8.30 and working. I possibly take a break around 12 for a miso and then I’m back in the studio until 4pm when I walk the dog. I’m often back in the studio after that until 6.30/7 depending on the light. In summer it stays light until 10 so that helps. On Thursday mornings I run a life drawing group from 9-12 so I start in the studio at around 1-1.30. I treat my work as my job.
What mediums do you use and why?
I’m a real traditionalist. I paint in archival oil on linen. The only medium I use is turps. Experimentation with mediums so far has left me disappointed.
What are you working on now?
Having just completed a still life and a commission piece as well as a number of gallery pieces I am now working on two competition pieces prior to commencing a new body of work which is at concept stage.
What do you love most about what you do?
It’s my essence… and it took so long to find it.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
Better – I hope – a better artist.